As flood risk lingers in Kansas, state climatologist using tools to keep watch

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MANHATTAN, Kan. — A stubborn upper-level system has kept rain chances in the forecast for the past several days now, and has also led to an increase in flood risk across some portions of Northeast Kansas.

Just last Sunday, Emporia saw several inches of rain and a local road had to be shut down due to river levels flowing over the bridge. Because of the extreme dangers of flooding, climatologists, meteorologists and emergency management all rely on a dense network of weather instrumentation spread out across the state.

“Having a well-distributed network helps us understand those differences whether those lines are shifting a little bit as far as rainfall amounts go,” said Mary Knapp, the Assistant State Climatologist at Kansas State University.

Mary, who grew up in Junction City and got her undergraduate degree at K-State, also says that there can never be “too much data.” The more people who participate in the weather observation programs, the better.

These instruments record and track variables such as temperature, precipitation, pressure, and relative humidity just to name a few. Due to technological advancements, this data can be sent back almost instantly to help make life-saving decisions.

There are several different networks of these weather instruments located across the state, and some of them are even national programs. Three of the main ones are:

  • National Weather Service – COOP program
  • CoCoRaHS Community Collaboration
  • Kansas Mesonet

The combination of these three major networks, climatological history, and forecasting advancements have all helped lead to an increase in flood advisory warnings with as much time to prepare as possible.

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